Tuesday, July 30, 2013

E5 + E6 Operation on the Tohoku Shinkansen

EMU JR East E5 (left) and E6 (right) series stand at Tokyo Station on the Tohoku Shinkansen 
 
On March 16th, 2013, JR East launched a new Shinkansen train, the EMU E6 series, "Super-Komachi". It is a so-called "Mini-shinkansen" train, which takes over the E3 series on the Tohoku and the Akita Shinkansen.

The E6 series is operated with a maximum speed of 300km/hour; meanwhile the E3 is designed to run at 275km/hour. Furthermore, JR East plans to raise the maximum speed of the E6 to 320km/hour early next year. The vivid colored body was very impressive. JR East calls this madder color "Japan Red".

After the debut of the E6 series, we could start to see the coupled train of the E5 + the E6 series at Tokyo Station (see the photos). The E5 has a green colored body; meanwhile, the E6 series is painted with the madder color. Both of the trains are glossy and beautiful. The spot of coupled state of the E5 and the E6 series always draws a crowd, who take pictures.

The E6 series is coupled and operated with the E5 series, "Hayabusa", from Tokyo to Morioka. The E6 is then detached after arriving at Morioka Station, and runs by itself to Akita, since the route between Morioka and Akita is constructed as a Mini-shinkansen. The coupled train is very long. The E5 is a 10-car train; meanwhile the E6 consists of 7 cars. Thus, a total of 17 cars are operated as one train.
 
A junior rail fan and the EMU JR East E6 (left) + E5 (right) series

Monday, July 29, 2013

Lily Garden and Nagano Color Train

EMU JR East 115 series (Nagano color) arrives at Katsunuma Station on the Chuo Line
 
Nagano Prefecture is a mountainous land with many spas and beautiful scenery. The area is known as a summer recreation spot as well as a winter ski resort. In this season, lilies are full-blown on several mountains. I visited Fujimi Highland with my family to view this summer flower last weekend.

Fujimi Highland is located in the easternmost part of Nagano Prefecture, some 150km west of Tokyo. The area is cool even in summer as the altitude is more than 1,200m. Among the several lily gardens, I like the white birch lily garden the best. It has a really beautiful view with yellow, white and tangerine colored lily blossoms and a white birch forest in the backdrop. It would be a more mysterious scenery, if we visited there in the morning, as it might be enveloped in a mist.

To get to this gorgeous garden, we got on a local train on the Chuo Line. Our vehicle was the EMU JR East 115 series, "Nagano color". They have ivory colored bodies with light blue and emerald colored stripes. The 115 series is a standard commuter train, launched in 1963 under the name of JNR (Japanese National Railways). Nearly 2,000 units have been manufactured for 20 years. It is one of the trains with a long life in Japan. The large rounded front lights are very attractive for me. The sound of the 120kW DC motor also fills me with nostalgia.

 
Lily garden in Fujimi Highland near Kobuchizawa Station on the Chuo Line

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Japan's Largest Ferris Wheel on the Keiyo Line


View from Japan's largest Ferris wheel... the EMU JR East 205-5000 series runs on the Keiyo Line

As I have mentioned before, the JR East Keiyo Line is one of the Tokyo's main transportation arteries. It has been constructed on reclaimed land in the Tokyo Bay area. Connecting Tokyo and Soga, the total operating length is 43km. The route was opened in 1990 as an underground or elevated, electrified and double track.

The Keiyo Line penetrates the new business centers such as Kaihin-Makuhari in the eastern part of the Tokyo metropolitan area. There are many amusement spots on the line. Tokyo Disneyland is perhaps the most reputable, but Kasai Rinkai Park is also a high spot.

Kasai Rinkai Park is a vast coastal area. The nearest station is Kasai-rinkai-koen. It takes 13 minutes from Tokyo Station. The Japan's largest Ferris wheel is a famous amusement in the park. It has a diameter of 111 meters, and stands 117 meters high (see the following photo). Riding the Ferris wheel, you can enjoy a spectacular view of Tokyo including Rainbow Bridge, Tokyo Sky Tree, Tokyo Gate Bridge and so on.

Don't forget one more... the elevated track of the Keiyo Line. You can see many trains there. Look at the top photo. It is the EMU JR East 205-5000 series, which is directly operated into the Musashino Line. This train makes a circular trip in the suburbs of Tokyo, and reaches Fuchu-honmachi in the western side of Tokyo. A long journey is just beginning for this train.


In the meantime, I have linked to an informative website, "Train of the Week". Please enjoy beautiful pictures and information about world trains.

Japan's largest Ferris wheel in Kasai Rinkai Park near Kasai-rinkai-koen Station on the Keiyo Line

Friday, July 26, 2013

New Train bound for the New World Heritage

EMU Fujikyu 6000 (ex-JR East 205) series arrives at Tsuru-bunka-daigaku-mae Station
 
Fujikyu is making good progress. It is a small private railway company at the foot of Mt. Fuji, but has a rare opportunity to expand its business now. Why? It is because Mt. Fuji was designated as a World Heritage Site last month. In fact, this news has brought a large benefit to Fujikyu. For instance, the share price of Fujikyu in the Tokyo Stock Exchange has currently hit its highest in the past 23 years since 1990. As you may know, the year 1990 was the peak of the "bubble economy" in Japan.

Fujikyu has recently launched a new train. Look at the photo. It is the EMU 6000 series. Do you remember this design? It was originally the EMU JR East 205 series being operated on the Keiyo Line. Fujikyu purchased 6 units of the 205 series from JR East last year, and modified them to operate on the Fujikyu Line. For example, cold and snow resistant systems have been added. The interior renovation has also been conducted by a famous designer, Eiji Mitooka, who has a great deal of experience designing the latest trains such as the EMU JR Kyushu 800 series on the Kyushu Shinkansen. I like this sky blue colored renovated train with a yellow stripe on the front. Specifically, the sky blue colored doors are very cute, aren't they?

A new train and the new World Heritage... the Mt. Fuji area has entered an exciting new era.
 
EMU Fujikyu 6000 (ex-JR East 205) series stands at Ootsuki Station

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

EMU Kintetsu 30000 Series, "Vista-Ex"

EMU Kintetsu 30000 series, "Vista-Ex" stands at Kashihara-jingu-mae Rail Yard 
 
When I was a kid, I yearned to travel on the limited express train, "Vista Car", on the Kintetsu lines. Kintetsu is a private railway company in the western part of Japan. It was far from Tokyo. The most I could do was to look at pictures of the Vista Car in a book. Of course, people didn't have videos or DVDs, much less the internet at that time.

When I was in the primary school, I travelled to the Ise-Shima area on the Kintetsu-Yamada Line. That was my first experience to get on the limited express train on the Kintetsu lines. It was a fantastic memory for me, but my vehicle was not the Vista Car... just a standard limited express train.

What is Vista Car? It is a bi-level limited express train on the Kintetsu Line. Kintetsu has a long tradition of operating bi-level trains. The first generation Vista Car was launched in 1958. Currently, renovated trains of the third generation Vista Car, namely the EMU 30000 series, "Vista-Ex", is the main fleet of the Kintetsu's bi-level limited express (see the photos).

It is said that the Vista Car has been developed under a competitive business environment. Needless to say, Kintetsu has been facing fierce competition from Japanese National Railways (present JR West) along with many other private railways. To survive as a private company, Kintetsu had to develop a popular train to attract passengers. As a result, Vista Car has been enthusiastically welcomed by passengers.

 
Bi-level cars of the EMU Kintetsu 30000 series, "Vista-Ex"
 
More information about limited express trains on the Kintetsu Line:

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The 103 Series in Japan and Indonesia

Classic EMU JR West 103 series stands at Kyoto Station on the Nara Line
 
As I have mentioned before, JR East is operating a special train on the Yamanote Line in Tokyo in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of "green colored train" operations. The Yamanote Line is famous for green colored trains, which have been a tradition of this route for 50 years. The coloring of the special train (the EMU 231-500 series) is similar to that of the first generation green colored train, namely the EMU 103 series.

True, the operation of the nostalgic special green colored train is exciting for rail fans in Tokyo; however, we can still see the original green colored 103 series in the western part of Japan. Look at the top photo. It is the green colored 103 series on the JR West Nara Line. The design and specification are rather old, but it seems very sturdy. The 103 series has been underpinning Japan's economic growth for the last 50 years, as it has been transporting hundreds of millions of commuters.

In the meantime, several units of the 103 series have crossed the ocean, and are operated in Indonesia. The following picture shows a dark blue colored 8 car train of the 103 series standing at Jakarta-kota Station on the Indonesian National Railways (PT KAI). It was the Independence Day of Indonesia. Local children were smiling with a proud look on their faces, while holding up the national flag. It was the year 2010, when I was stationed in Jakarta, Indonesia.

 
EMU PT KAI 103 series stands at Jakarta-kota Station in Indonesia (August, 2010)

Monday, July 22, 2013

Nara Blue: Sky and Train

Classic EMU JR West 103 series stands at Nara Station
 
On the last day that we stayed in Nara Prefecture, we visited Todaiji-temple in the eastern part of Nara City. This temple is famous for its Great Buddha, which was made in the mid-700s. The Great Buddha was made of bronze; however, it isn't quite what it used to be, due to Japan's frequent natural calamities. The wooden structure housing the Great Buddha, called Daibutsuden, was also destroyed several times through the centuries. The present structure was made in 1709. It's the largest wooden structure in the world, but is two-thirds its original size.

When we visited Todaiji-temple, I couldn't take pictures as it was raining hard. Alternatively, I am going to show you a picture taken by an Indonesian tourist last November (see the following photo). You can see the Colossal Hall of the Great Buddha that was set off against the beautiful autumn blue sky.

After a visit to Todaiji-temple, we left Nara taking the JR West Nara Line. A sky blue colored classic train, the EMU 103 series was waiting for us at platform number 4 (see the top photo). The 103 series was launched in 1963. It was a standard commuter train on the Japanese National Railways. A total of 3,447 units have been manufactured for 21 years. It has already been retired from the Tokyo metropolitan area; however, we can still see their brothers here in the western part of Japan.

The blue sky and the blue colored train stand out against the city of Nara.

 
Todaiji-temple is set off against the autumn blue sky near Nara station (November, 2012)
Photo: Courtesy Arga Surawidjaja

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Night Walk in Nara City

EMU Kintetsu 1252 series passes through the site of Heijo-kyo Ruins in the late afternoon
 
After a visit to the Former Imperial Audience Hall, we continued strolling around the ruins of Heijo-kyo. When we came to an old gate, we heard the sound of a train. I was surprised that a Kintetsu train, the EMU 1252 series, was passing through the site of ruins (see the top photo)... why?

The reason is as follows. Heijo-kyo has been farmland for a long time since the capital was moved to Nagaoka-kyo in Kyoto in 784. It means that Heijo-kyo had been a long-forgotten capital. The railway company didn't realise it was the old capital, and constructed the track in 1914. Currently, a new underground track is planned, but it hasn't been achieved yet.

When we returned to Nara City, the day had completely set in, but we continued walking in the downtown area. Our destination was Nara Park, which is an extensive park including forests, ponds, shrines and temples. It is also famous for many deer roaming about... sorry, sleeping at night. We came to Ukimido, an old hall constructed in Sagi-ike Pond. It is an octagonal wooden building with a cypress bark roof. Lit up, it was fantastic (see the following photo). Nara is beautiful all day and night.

For your information, the EMU Kintetsu 1252 series (the top photo) is part of the 1230 series group, which was launched in 1987 as a standard commuter train for Nara, Kyoto, Osaka and Nagoya lines. A VVVF inverter control system with induction motors is adopted.
 
Night view of Ukimido in Nara Park near Kintetsu-Nara Station

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Nara, Rapidly Changing City and Railway

EMU Hanshin 1000 series runs on the Kintetsu-Nara Line near Yamato-Saidaiji Station
 
Nara is the main city in Nara Prefecture. It was Japan's capital from 710 to 784 after Asuka (592-694) and Fujiwara-kyo (694-710). The ancient capital, namely Heijo-kyo, was located west of the present downtown area. It was a preplanned city with checkerboard streets.

Heijo-kyo has been farmland for a long time since the capital was moved to Nagaoka-kyo in Kyoto in 784. It means that Heijo-kyo had been a long-forgotten capital. Currently, a rebuilding project of Heijo-kyo is going on. For instance, the Former Imperial Audience Hall (see the following photo) was reconstructed and completed in 2010 in commemoration of the 1300th anniversary of capital relocation from Fujiwara-kyo to Heijo-kyo.

To get to this ancient capital, the nearest railway station is Yamato-Saidaiji on the Kintetsu-Nara, Kyoto and Kashihara lines. You can access this interchange station directly from major nearby cities such as Osaka and Kyoto, taking the Kintetsu or Kyoto Municipal Subway. Furthermore, people, who live in Kobe City, are now able to visit Nara directly, as direct operation between the Kintetsu and Hanshin railways began in 2009 through Osaka-Nanba Station. So, we can also see Hanshin Railway's trains on the Kintetsu track in Nara City now (see the top photo). Times have really changed. It is an irresistible attraction for rail fans to see various kinds of trains in Nara City.

Rebuilding the ancient capital and reinforcing the railway network... Nara is an old but rapidly changing city.

 
The Former Imperial Audience Hall (restored building) in Heijo-kyo near Yamato-Saidaiji Station
 
More inforation about the EMU Hanshin 1000 series (in Japanese):

Friday, July 19, 2013

Visit to the World’s Oldest Wooden Building

EMU JR West 221 series, "Yamatoji Rapid", arrives at Horyuji Station on the Kansai Main Line
 
On the day subsequent to our visit to Asuka-temple, we headed to the Ikaruga area to see the other old temples. Our destination was Horyuji Station on the JR West Kansai Main Line. We hopped on the "Yamatoji Rapid" train from Nara Station.

Along with Kintetsu (Kinki Nippon Railway), JR West is another giant transporter in Nara Prefecture. Our vehicle was EMU 221 series, an inter-city rapid train being operated between Nara and Osaka (see the top photo). The 221 series was launched in 1989 as the first train of JR West after the break-up and privatization of Japan National Railways in 1988. Passengers can use this luxury train with cozy seats without any extra charge. It is a good service because JR West faces severe competition from Kintetsu.

After getting off the train at Horyuji Station, we visited Horyuji-temple, which has the world's oldest wooden building. Look at the following picture. It is a five-story stupa. The original building was said to be constructed in 607. It was, then, reconstructed in 680, after total destruction by a fire in 670. This world's oldest wooden building was designated as a world heritage site in 1993.

Most Japanese people come here on a junior and/or senior high school excursion, as I did, but I didn't remember my visit clearly as I was not interested in temples at that time. I was probably an average teenager. Most people know the true value of beauty after they become adults.

 
Five-story stupa (the world's oldest wooden building, 680 A.D.) in Horyuji-temple near Horyuji Station
 
More information about JR West trains (in Japanese):

Thursday, July 18, 2013

EMU 22600 Series, Ace of the Kintetsu Line

EMU Kintetsu 22600 series, "Ace", stands at Kashihara-jingu-mae Station on the Kashihara Line
 
There are two ways to Asuka Village, which is the ancient capital of Japan. One of them is taking the Kintetsu-Minami-Osaka and Yoshino lines from Osaka. The other way is taking the Kintetsu-Kyoto, Kashihara and Yoshino lines from Kyoto. The latter route is more convenient for Tokyoites, because Kyoto is closer to Asuka Village from Tokyo than Osaka is.

Last Saturday, we got off the bullet train, the N700 series at Kyoto Station on the Tokaido Shinkansen. We, then, transferred to the Kintetsu-Kyoto Line. Kintetsu frequently operates inter-city limited express trains from Kyoto. My vehicle was the EMU 22600 series "Ace" bound for Kashihara-jingu-mae (see the top photo).

The 22600 series is the major model of the Kintetsu limited express fleet. It was launched in 2009 to replace the old models such as the 12200 series. The rounded frontal mask is very cute and is my favorite. The interior is also gorgeous. It is equipped with reddish colored spacious and luxury reclining seats. The seat also has a good level of hardness, which is very comfortable for me.

A smoking compartment is also equipped in the first car (see the following photo). Recently, most of the trains in Japan are non-smoking cars; but, Kintetsu is still considerate of smokers. I am a non-smoker; but, I would like to support the position of Kintetsu, who provides all kinds of passengers with a good service.

The EMU 22600 series... it is truly the ace of the Kintetsu Line.
 
Smoking compartent of the EMU Kintetsu 22600 series, "Ace"
 
More information about limited express trains on the Kintetsu Line:

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Kintetsu-Yoshino Line, Access to the Roots of Japan

EMU Kintetsu 6200 series arrives at Kashihara-jingu-mae Station on the Yoshino Line

Nara Prefecture is located in the western part of Japan, some 500km west of Tokyo. This prefecture is well known as an area of Japan's ancient capital. I visited Nara Prefecture recently to see historical places and enjoy the local railways with my family.

My first destination was Asuka Village, which was the Japan's capital from 592 to 694. Although, it is a small village in a sleepy countryside now, Asuka was once the Japan's center where the emperors lived. One of the famous places in this area is Asuka-temple. It was opened in 596 by Soga no Umako, who conducted political reforms during the rules of Emperor Bidatsu and Empress Suiko. We can still see Japan's oldest Great Buddha in this temple (see the following picture). It was made by Tori Busshi in 606. Strange to say, this Great Buddha faces a little to the right. What is he staring at?

To get to Asuka Village, the Kintetsu-Yoshino Line is convenient. Kintetsu (Kinki Nippon Railway) is Japan's largest private railway company, which has a 508.2km network. The Yoshino Line is a small 25.2km local route connecting Kashiharajingu-mae and Yoshino.

The EMU 6200 series is one of the main fleets on the Yoshino Line (see the top photo). It was launched in 1974 to replace the old model. A total of 9 sets, 38 units, have been manufactured so far. The specification is rather old, but all of the units are still operated without being scrapped.

The Kintetsu-Yoshono Line is an access to the roots of Japan.

Japan's oldest Great Buddha (606 A.D.) in Asuka-temple near Asuka Station
 
Remarks: Visitors are allowed to take photographs of Great Buddha in Asuka-temple.
備考: 飛鳥寺では、仏像の写真撮影が許可されています。

Monday, July 15, 2013

EMU Odakyu 1000 Series, Train for My Everyday Use


EMU Odakyu 1000 series arrives at Atsugi Station on the Odawara Line

Along with the 3000 series, the EMU Odakyu 1000 series is a train for my everyday use (see the top photo). It was commissioned in 1988 as Odakyu's first stainless-steel car with induction motors and VVVF inverter control (variable-frequency drive) system. A total of 36 sets, 196 units have been manufactured so far by Tokyu Sharyo, Nippon Sharyo and Kawasaki Heavy Industries.

When the 1000 series was launched, I was surprised that the VVVF inverter control system generated a loud and animalistic modulated sound. I still remember that my son often imitated this strange sound when he was a kid. He was truly a mimic of genius. Was I a doting parent?

Unbeknown to me, the VVVF control system of the 1000 series was changed to the latest and quieter system. According to a specialized book, Odakyu had completed the change to the system by 2012. It is too bad that I can't hear the loud and animalistic modulated sound any longer.

The 1000 series was also known as a multi-purpose commuter train. For example, it is used for all kinds of trains, such as rapid express, express, semi-express, and local. Furthermore, it used to be used for direct operation between the Odakyu and the Subway Tokyo Metro Chiyoda lines. But recently, the 1000 series lost its status as a direct operating train to the new commuter train, EMU 4000 series.

Nothing stands still.

EMU Odakyu 1000 series runs on the express track, and passes through Chitose-Funabashi Sta.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Komakusa Community on the Shirane Volcano Ropeway

Shirane Volcano Ropeway (godola lift)
 
The Japan Meteorological Agency made an announcement that this year's rainy season ended on July 6th in the Tokyo metropolitan area, which means midsummer has begun. Daily temperatures frequently top 35 degrees Celsius in Tokyo. The only thing I can do is escape the city and go to the highlands. I visited Shirane Volcano with my family last weekend. It is located in Gunma Prefecture, some 150km north west of Tokyo. The Shirane Volcano area is cool even in summer as the altitude of the summit is more than 2,000m.

There are several famous spots around the volcano. Natural Komakusa community is one of such unmissable places. Komakusa is an alpine flora indigenous to Japan. It is blooms with tiny pink flowers in early summer in the highlands of Japan. Kumakusa means "grass of horse" in Japanese. As its name suggests, the shape of a flower is similar to a horse's head (see the following photo). I saw countless numbers of blossoms on the fringe of an old crater wall. It was really gorgeous.

To see this natural flower community, Shirane Volcano Ropeway is convenient. It is a gondola lift, whose total operating length is 2.4km (see the top photo). Six-seater gondolas are operated every minute. It takes about ten minutes from Sanroku (foot of the mountain) to Sancho (summit) Station. The gondolas were manufactured by CWA Company in Switzerland. After arriving at Sancho Station, visitors can transfer to a chairlift, which leads to the Komakusa community.

 
Komakusa community near Sancho Station on the Shirane Volcano Ropeway

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Ozashiki 485 "Hana", Flower of Train

EMU JR East 485 series "Hana" arrives at Otsuki Station on the Chuo Line
 
Along with Utage and Yuu , "Hana" is another ozashiki train in the Tokyo metropolitan area. Hana means flower in Japanese; but it also has the meaning of beauty, gaiety or cheerfulness. According to JR East, the development concept of this train is "a train to provide passengers with a space to soften hearts and to have fun."

The interior of Hana is arranged as a Japanese-type living room. Namely, the floor is straw-matted with Japanese-style low tables so that the passengers are relaxed taking off their shoes as if they are at home. In addition, special spaces such as viewing saloons and meeting rooms are equipped.

The formal name of Hana is the set G6+G7 of the EMU 485 series, which belongs to JR East's Oyama Rail Yard. It is an AC-DC (Alternate Current - Direct Current) dual system train, which is composed of 6 cars. Hana was commissioned in 1997 to replace an old ozashiki train "Nagoyaka (harmonious)". Nagoyaka was a passenger coach train pulled by a locomotive. It was inconvenient to operate when the locomotive was required to change by switchback at the terminal station. Hence, Hana was manufactured as an EMU.

Typically, Hana is used for group tours. Most of the passengers are friends, families, and groups from work. Unfortunately, I have never had an opportunity to get on this train; but someday I want to.

The ozashiki 485, Hana... it is truly a flower of a train.

 
Emblem of "Hana" and "Green car (First class)" on the EMU JR East 485 series "Hana"
 
More information about the EMU 485 series "Hana" etc. (in Japanese):

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Hydrangea Garden on the Kominato Railway

Nostalgic DMU Kominato Type 200 leaves Tsukizaki Station (February, 2013)
 
The season of hydrangea flowers has ended in Tokyo. I no longer see the full-blown hydrangeas in the urban area. Instead, we can still see beautifully blooming hydrangea in the mountains surrounding the city of Tokyo. One of the reputable late-blooming hydrangea areas is Mamenbara Highland in Chiba Prefecture. It is located in the center of Boso Peninsula. The altitude of the area is more than 300 meters.

In Mamenbara Highland, there is a famous hydrangea garden, "Tenbai-en (the garden to bow the knee to the heaven)", which is part of Buddhist temple, Myohosho-ji. More than 20,000 hydrangeas are planted there. They bloom from early to middle July (see the following photo). We can enjoy this fully blown hill, wandering the foot paths within the garden. It is absolutely the "world of heaven".

To visit this gorgeous spot, take the Kominato Railway and get off at Yoro-keikoku Station. As I mentioned in my blog on March 31st, 2012, this railway is a part of the trans-peninsula railway, which connects Goi on the west coast and Ohara on the east coast of the peninsula. Kominato forms the western part of the trans-peninsula railway.

A nostalgic two-car DMU train, Type KiHa 200 is one of the main fleets on the track. A total of 14 units were manufactured from 1961 to 1977 by Nippon Sharyo. Currently, they are rather old, but still maintained in good condition (see the top photo).

Kominato Railway attracts rail fans as well as flower lovers.

Hydrangea garden in Mamenbara Highland near Yoro-keikoku station on the Kominato Railway

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Sotetsu New 7000 Series, Two Kinds of Coloring


EMU Sotetsu New 7000 series (new color) passed through Nishiya Station

What made you like trains? For me, many answers that come to mind are..., because I love traveling, because I like cameras. But, the prime reason is that I am excited with the coloring of trains! Once I see a beautifully colored train, such as the Shinkansen E5 (see my blog on April 3rd, 2013) or E6 series (see my blog on April 2nd, 2013), my heart beats faster. I am sure you are no different.

The coloring change of trains is the greatest pleasure for many rail fans. Look at the top photo. It is an EMU Sotetsu New 7000 series passing through Nishiya Station. The body color is light gray with blue and orange colored pencil stripes. It is muted pastels, isn't it? On the other hand, the following picture shows the old coloring of the same train. The bare silver aluminum body with red and vermilion colored heavy stripes gives a stronger impression than that of the new coloring.

The coloring of trains must be intimately bound up with the corporate identity. Sotetsu is probably changing their identity from "powerful commuter railway" to "environment-conscious railway". Even just the coloring of trains provides no end to the amusement for rail fans.

For your information the EMU Sotetsu New 7000 series was commissioned in 1986. So far, a total of 60 units have been manufactured by Hitachi. The appearance of the New 7000 is completely different from the original 7000 series (see my blog on January 7th, 2013).

EMU Sotetsu 7000 series (old color) arrives at Ebina Station

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Preserved ELs in Tobu Museum

Electric locomotive Tobu 101 of the Type ED 101 is preserved in Tobu Museum
 
In Japan, most of the major private railway companies have been brought up as urban commuter transporters. In other words, they have been not interested in freighting. As a result, most of them have introduced very few electric locomotives (ELs).

In such a circumstance, Tobu Railway stands out, because it used to have many ELs in its rolling stock. Look at the top photo. It is unit number 101 of type ED101, the first EL in Tobu Railway. The 101 was manufactured in 1928 by English Electric Company in the UK. It is a small EL with a "B+B" wheel arrangement ("4-4-0" equivalent in Whyte-notation), but was a hard worker on the tracks. The 101 was retired in 1972, and moved to a small private railway in the western part of Japan. It, then, moved back to Tokyo in 2009 to be preserved in the Tobu Museum.

The following picture shows another EL in Tobu Railway, unit number 5015 of Type ED5010. A total of 14 units have been manufactured since 1955 by Hitachi Mito Factory. This EL also has a B+B wheel arrangement. The size of the body is a bit larger than that of ED101. Unit number 5015 in the photo was manufactured in 1959, and retired in 1984. It, then, moved to Tobu Museum to be preserved in an exhibition.

The ED101 and 5010... they are precious ELs, when we talk about the history of Japanese freight transportation.
 
Electric locomotive Tobu 5015 of the Type ED 5010 is preserved in Tobu Museum
 
More information about preserved rolling stock in Tiobu Museum (in Japanee):

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Train photo Session on the Fujikyu Line: Part 2

EMUs Fujikyu 1000 (ex-Keio 5000) series stand at Kawaguchi-ko Rail Yard

After shooting the JR East trains, I moved to the other rows of the trains. My next target was Fujikyu train, the EMU 1000 series (see the top photo). As I mentioned in my blog on December 14th, 2012, this model is an ex-Keio 5000 series, which was a reputable commuter train in Tokyo from the 1960s through the 1990s. It is also known as the winner of the 1964 Laurel Prize (see my blog on May 20th, 2012). The curved front windows and double rounded front lights are nostalgic, but still very cool.

Specifically, the left one is the "Keio color", which is ivory white with a burgundy stripe. Fujikyu has revived its body color to that of the Keio era. It has a strong appeal to the rail fans, who know the gallant appearance of the Keio 5000 series from the 1960s through the 1990s.

In the meantime, Kawaguchi-ko Rail Yard (the venue for the train photo session) is located at the foot of Mt. Fuji, the Japan's highest mountain (3,776m above the sea level). Recently, Mt Fuji has been designated a World Heritage Site to the delight of the local people, sightseeing businesses and the local government.

In commemoration of this big news, a rounded cerebration plate was being displayed on the front of all Fujikyu trains. Designation of a World Heritage Site has a powerful effect on the sightseeing business. I saw many tourists, who were flocking to Mt. Fuji at Kawaguchi-ko Station.

 
Matterhorn-Gotthard-Bahn color (left), Keio color (center) and Fujikyu standard color (right)

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Train Photo Session on the Fujikyu Line

EMU Fujikyu 2000 (left), JR East 183 (center) and 183/189 series in Kawaguchi-ko Rail Yard

Train photo sessions are one of the greatest pleasures for rail fans. They are held by railway companies as part of their public relations activities. It is a very rare experience that we can visit rail yards where we are usually not allowed to enter. In addition, it is also precious that railway companies kindly provide us with special photo opportunities such as rare rows of rare trains.

Last Sunday, I joined a photo session, which was held by Fujikyu Railway in the rail yard adjacent to Kawaguchi-ko Station. Fujikyu is a local railway company in Yamanashi Prefecture. Connecting Otsuki on the JR East Chuo Line and Kawaguchi-ko (Lake Kawaguchi), there are 16 stations over a total operating length of 23.6km. It is known as the railway to the foot of Japan's highest mountain (3,776m above the sea level).

Before joining the session, I supposed that the participants would be few as Kawaguchi-ko Station is far from big cities such as Tokyo and Yokohama; however, I saw several hundreds of rail fans were there (see the following photo). I felt anew a high popularity of this local private railway.

Thanks to Fujikyu, I could get a rare shot. Look at the top photo. They are EMUs Fujukyu 2000 and JR East 183-189 series. JR East trains were directly operated from the Chuo Line. You can review their detailed explanations in my previous blogs.

Thank you, Fujikyu. I enjoyed it.

 
Rail fans and trains on exhibit in Kawaguchi-ko Rail Yard on the Fujikyu Line